CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The University of Northern Iowa women's volleyball team posted a 3-0 sweep over the Niagara Purple Eagles in the first round of the NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship Tournament in the McLeod Center on Friday night. Set scores were 25-16, 25-13, 25-17.
UNI was led by senior middle blocker Michelle Burrow who posted 12 kills in the match with one service ace. Junior outside hitter Megan Lehman added nine kills, sophomore middle blocker Shelby Kintzel tallied eight kills, and junior middle blocker Krista DeGeest notched six kills for the Panthers. Senior setter Bre Payton posted 33 assists, one service ace, and 13 digs in the victory while teammate Molly Turk added 12 digs in the contest.
UNI held Niagara to a .032 hitting percentage on the night while posting a .248 percentage of their own. The Panthers held the advantage in kills, 42-27.
The Panthers won the opening set 25-16 behind four kills and a service ace from Michelle Burrow and three kills from Krista DeGeest. Bre Payton tallied nine assists in the opening set for the Panthers and teammates Megan Lehman, junior outside hitter Amy Braun, and Shelby Kintzel each tallied two kills.
UNI held Niagara to a .059 hitting percentage and posted a .308 hitting percentage of their own.
The Panthers dominated the second set from start to finish, opening on a 7-2 run. The UNI lead was cut to four at 12-8, but the Panthers responded with a 4-0 run to push the lead to eight at 16-8. The Purple Eagles couldn't close the gap as the Panthers went on a 9-4 run to win the set, 25-13.
Shelby Kintzel had five kills and three blocks, Krista DeGeest added two kills and two blocks in the set, and teammate Bre Payton added 12 assists for the Panthers. UNI hit .256 and held Niagara to a .021 hitting percentage.
UNI opened the third set on an 8-2 run and never looked back en route to a 25-17 victory, clinching the sweep. Michelle Burrow tallied seven kills in the third set and teammate Megan Lehman added four kills and two blocks. Teammate Bre Payton recorded one kill, two blocks, and 12 assists in the final set for the Panthers. The Panthers posted a hitting percentage of .186 in the third set and limited Niagara to a .022 hitting percentage.
Niagara (25-9) was led by senior outside hitter Hannah Hedrick who tallied nine kills in the match. Teammate Kari Honomichl added seven kills and Nicole Bayer posted 24 assists for the Purple Eagles.
UNI (33-1) advances to the second round of the NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship Tournament. The No. 6-seeded Panthers will square off with the Florida Gators. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night in the McLeod Center.